9K35 Strela-10

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9K35 Strela-10
(NATO reporting name: SA-13 Gopher)
Strela 10.jpg
9K35 transporter erector launcher and radar (TELAR)
Type Vehicle-mounted SAM system
Place of origin Soviet Union
Service history
In service 1979–present
Used by See list of operators
Production history
Designer KB Tochmash Design Bureau of Precision Engineering
Manufacturer Saratovskiy Zenit Machine Plant (Muromteplovoz Joint Stock Company for the 9K35M3-K)
Produced 1979
Variants Strela-10, Strela-10SV (Prototype),[1] Strela-10M, Strela-10M2, Strela-10M3, Strela-10M3-K, Strela-10M4
Specifications (9K35 Strela-10M3[1])
Weight 12,300 kg
Length 6.6 m
Width 2.85 m
Height 2.3 m (travelling), 3.8 m (firing)
Crew 3 (commander, gunner and driver)

Armour 7 mm
Main
armament
4 × 9M333 (or 9M37MD)
Engine YaMZ-238 V diesel
240 hp
Suspension torsion bar
Ground clearance 0.7 m
Fuel capacity 450 litres
Operational
range
500 km
Speed 61.5 km/h (road)
6 km/h (water)

The 9K35 Strela-10 (Russian: 9К35 «Стрела-10»; English: arrow) is a highly mobile, visually aimed, optical/infra-red guided, low-altitude, short-range surface to air missile system. "9K35" is its GRAU designation; its NATO reporting name is SA-13 "Gopher".

Development[edit]

The 9K35 is the successor of the 9K31 Strela-1 (SA-9 "Gaskin") and can also use the Strela-1's missiles in place of the 9M37.

Development of the 9K37 Strela-10SV system was initiated July 24, 1969. The decision to begin the development of a new non-all-weather system was taken despite the simultaneous development of an all-weather hybrid gun/missile system 9K22 "Tunguska" mainly as an economical measure. It was also seen as advantageous to have a system capable of fast reaction times and immunity to heavy radio-frequency jamming.[3]

Rather than being mounted on an amphibious but lightly armoured BRDM chassis like the SA-9, the SA-13 is mounted on a more mobile tracked, modified MT-LB, with more room for equipment and missile reloads. Provision for amphibious capability is provided in some variants in the form of polyurethane-filled floats.

The Strela-10SV system and its 9M37 missile were tested in Donguzkom range from 1973 to 1974, but the results were disappointing: the system was found deficient in terms of missile probability of kill, vehicle reliability, among other things. Acceptance to service was thus delayed until May 16, 1976, by which time improvements had been introduced to the system.[3]

Development of the system continued throughout the years through Strela-10M, -10M2 and -10M3 variants introducing among other things improved radio communications and provision for better integration to the Soviet integrated air defence system air picture data.[3] Also improved missiles (9M37M and 9M333) have been developed. and by September 2007 the 9K35M3-K Kolchan variant, mounted on a BTR-60 wheeled chassis, was displayed for the first time at the Moscow Air Show MAKS 2007.[1]

Description[edit]

Associated systems and vehicles[edit]

The 9K35 is a SAM system with electro-optical guidance. It has the capability to use radars for target acquisition and range. Some vehicles have a pintle-mounted PKT 7.62 mm machine gun in front of the forward hatch for local protection. Other vehicles have been seen with additional support railings for the system on the rear deck. The following is a list of associated equipment:

  • 9A34M2, 9A34M3-K: launcher vehicle with 9S86 "SNAP SHOT" range only radar located between the two pairs of missile canisters on the transporter erector launcher and radar (TELAR) (maximum radar range is 450 to 10,000 m).
  • 9A35M2, 9A35M3-K: launcher vehicle with 9S16 (NATO "Flat Box-B") passive radar detection system that gives a 360° azimuth and minimum 40° elevation coverage
  • 9F624 and 9F624M training simulator
  • 9S482M7 Control Post.
  • 9U111: a 1,950 kg trailer-mounted 12 kW generator unit, designed to feed power to up to four 9A35M2, 9A35M3-K or 9A34M2, 9A34M3-K launcher vehicles at a distance of up to 30 m by cable while conducting maintenance or training operations.
  • 9V839M: system checkout vehicle
  • 9V915M, 9V915M-1: technical maintenance vehicle
  • MT-LBU "DOG EAR" F/G-band target acquisition radar (maximum range 80 km/50 miles)

Missiles[edit]

9M37
Type Surface-to-air missile
Place of origin Soviet Union
Production history
Variants 9M37, 9M37M, 9M37MD, 9M333
Specifications (9M333[1])
Weight 41 kg
Length 2190 mm
Diameter 120 mm
Warhead Frag-HE
Warhead weight 5 kg
Detonation
mechanism
contact and laser proximity fuzes

Wingspan 360 mm
Propellant single-stage solid propellant rocket motor
Operational
range
5 kilometres (3.1 mi)
Flight altitude 3,500 metres (11,500 ft)
Speed 550 m/s
Guidance
system
dual-mode passive 'photocontrast'/IR seeker

The Strela-10 system was originally designed to use the 9M37 missile as its primary weapon, but its launch system was designed to be also backwards compatible with the 9M31M missile of the earlier 9K31 Strela-1 (SA-9 "Gaskin") system.

Each 9M37 missile is 2.2 m (7.2 ft) long, weighs 40 kg (88 pounds) and carries a 3.5 kg (7-15 pound) warhead. The maximum speed of the missile is near Mach 2, engagement range is from 500...800 to 5000 m (0.3–3 miles) and engagement altitude is between 10 and 3500 m (33-11,500 ft). (The ranges define the zone of target intercept, minimum and maximum launch distances are longer for approaching and shorter for receding targets, depending on the target's speed, altitude and flight direction.)

Four missiles are mounted on the turret in boxes, ready to launch, and eight more are carried inside the vehicle as reloads. Reloading takes around 3 minutes.

The 9M37 was quickly replaced with a slightly improved 9M37M (main improvement was in more efficient autopilot system for missile flight path control), and later the more significantly upgraded 9M333, which introduced:[3]

  • heavier warhead of improved expanding-rod design and larger HE content
  • new proximity fuzing with 8-ray laser to improve probability of fuzing on near misses of very small targets such as cruise missiles or UAVs
  • triple-channel guidance system for more robust countermeasure rejection
  • improved engine to provide similar performance despite the slight increase in missile length and weight.

All missiles—9M31M, 9M37, 9M37M and 9M333—are equipped with optical homing heads utilizing reticle-based photocontrast and/or infrared homing. 9M333 is said to have particularly good countermeasures resistance due to its triple-channel homing head, while the photocontrast channel of 9M37/9M37M is described as back-up method to the IR channel.[3]

All main variants—Strela-10SV, Strela-10M, Strela-10M2 and Strela-10M3—can use all aforementioned missile types.[4]

The main characteristics of the missiles are listed in the table below, based on source number,[4] unless otherwise noted. For comparison purposes data for nearest western equivalent, the somewhat larger and heavier MIM-72 Chaparral, is also provided.

Missile 9M31M 9M37 9M37M 9M333 MIM-72A MIM-72G
year of
introduction
1971[5] 1976 1981 1989 1967[6] 1982/1990(*)
diameter [mm] 120 120 120 120 127[7] 127[7]
length [mm] 1803 2190 2190 2 230 2900[7] 2900[7]
weight [kg] 32 40 40 42 86[7] 86[7]
warhead (HE) [kg] 2.6 3 3 5 11[7] 12.6[7]
fuze impact and proximity proximity + impact proximity + impact 8-ray laser proximity + impact impact + radar proximity impact + directional doppler radar proximity
seeker head AM-modulated photocontrast (uncooled PbS detector element[5]) Two-channel:
1) AM-modulated photocontrast (cooled[3] PbS),
2) FM-modulated uncooled[3] IR
Two-channel:
1) AM-modulated photocontrast (cooled[3] PbS),
2) FM-modulated uncooled[3] IR
Three-channel:
1) photocontrast,
2) IR,
3) IRCCM channel
cooled IR of AIM-9D (limited[8]/no[7] forward hemisphere capability) two-channel:
1) cooled all-aspect IR,
2) UV (forward-hemisphere / long-range homing + IRCCM)[7]
Min. range of target destruction [km] 0.8 0.8 0.8 0.8  ?  ?
Max. range of target destruction [km] 4.2 5.0 5.0 5.0 6..9 (sources vary) 6..9 (sources vary)
Min. intercept altitude [m] 30 25 25 10 15[7] 15[7]
Max. intercept altitude [m] 3000..3500 3500 3500 3500 3000[7] 3000[7]
speed [m/s] 420[5] 517 517 517 Mach 1.5[7] Mach 1.5[7]
target max speed [m/s]: approaching / receding  ? 415/310 415/310 415/310  ?  ?

(*) Contract for production of MIM-72G by retrofitting new components was awarded in late 1982, with all missile in US service upgraded by the late 1980s. New production of MIM-72G missiles started in 1990.

As the photocontrast channel provides effective head-on engagement ability, firing range against an approaching target can be considerably longer than the maximum ranges listed above, likewise maximum firing range would be considerably less than the maximum range of target destruction against a receding target. Definition of range and effective ceiling for MIM-72 is unknown and the figures are therefore not directly comparable.

Combat use[edit]

Angolan War[edit]

On February 20th, 1988, 31 year old Major Edward Richard Every from 1st Squadron was Killed in Action (KIA) when his Mirage F1AZ, Serial 245 was shot down by a Soviet SA-13 Gopher Surface-to-Air Missile in Cuatir (near Menongue) while on an operational attack over Southern Angola. The aircraft crashed in flames and disintegrated on impact.

Operation Desert Storm[edit]

Iraq had several operational Strela-10 systems in the beginning of the 1991 operation to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi occupation, most if not all of which were organized as part of the battlefield air defence systems of the Republican Guard divisions.

During the operation, a total of 27 coalition aircraft are believed to have been hit by Iraqi IR-homing SAMs, resulting in a total of 14 aircraft losses.[9] Some of the aircraft losses were shot down on the spot, while others, such as the OA-10A 77-0197, managed to return to base only to be lost on a crashed landing.[10] Others still landed safely but were since written off as total losses.

At least two of the losses are believed to have been due to Strela-10 hits: on Feb 15th an A-10A Warthog 78-0722 of 353rd TFS/354th TFW was hit by a SAM believed to be Strela-10 some 60 miles north west of Kuwait city while attacking Republican Guard targets. Pilot Lt James Sweet ejected and was made a Prisoner of War. While attempting to protect Sweet on the ground, his wingman Steven Phyllis flying A-10A 79-0130 was also hit by what is believed to have been a missile from a Strela-10. Phyllis was killed in the incident.[10]

Kosovo[edit]

One, possibly two OA-10A Thunderbolt II aircraft are believed to have been hit by Serbian Strela-10 SAMs. Both aircraft landed safely and were repaired and returned to service.

Operators[edit]

Former operators[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]